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Pret A Manger to open in China

Pret is my favorite UK sandwich shop chain. In truth, it’s much more than a sandwich shop selling fruit. granola, soup as well as great coffee. 

It re-defined the UK market when it opened and has since expanded widely in Europe and the US. It has had outlets in Hong Kong for over a decade but until now, has been reluctant to move into China. The well documented supply chain management challenges for food retailers may have had a bearing on that.

The first shop opens in Shanghai but hopefully this will be the first of many, especially in Beijing where I live. 

Pret built its reputation by blending great food with great customer service and delivering both consistently across hundreds of outlets. Staff are well rewarded and judged against customer satisfaction studies – not just revenue by outlet. Quality doesn’t come cheap so a sandwich and coffee at Pret is never a low cost option but the brand proposition works in the west.

Those of us who are not Chinese but now live here recognise that things are different in China and in truth, never stop learning that fact so it will be interesting to see how the Pret proposition is tweaked.

It’ll be interesting to find out if the 10% waste rule from the UK is applied I. china. In the UK the managers are taught to keep the shelves stocked up at all times – no one wants to buy the last sandwich on the shelf! At the end of the day the surplus food is distributed to the homeless. It may not work in Shanghai but the 10% rule should appeal to the image conscious Chinese

I am also sure its business plan is much more ambitious than just the Shanghai ex pat community. A good place to start but places like Chengdu have a very big overseas population. Undoubtedly the whole approach will build on the Chinese obsession for fast food and grazing – I hope too that they can cope with the Noon lunch rush. This is a phenomena left over from the old days where regulated times were stipulated by government for all workers. Noon is lunch and the entire country stops then. Pret no doubt can cash in on this as many others have learned to do!